These days, the truly securest way to send and receive signed documents is electronically.
By implementing electronic signature software and digital signatures, individuals and organizations have been given a method for signing important documents and completing processes faster than ever before.
But what are digital signatures exactly? Truth be told, digital signatures are confused with electronic signatures regularly. And, while they work hand-in-hand, digital signatures and electronic signatures perform two separate functions.
Below, we’ll take a look at how digital signature software works and explore some of the benefits that they offer to individuals and organizations.
What Are Digital Signatures?
Think of digital signatures as the fingerprints of electronic documents. Digital signatures are the element that permanently associates a signer with the electronic form they signed.
When someone signs an electronic document with a digital signature, a lot goes on in the background. First, a private encryption key will be added. A hash algorithm will subsequently lock the document. Once the recipient receives the electronic document, a public decryption key must match the hash algorithm’s private encryption key to then “unlock” and verify the signature as valid.
The creation of the public and private keys mentioned above is known as the public key infrastructure (PKI). This process allows the signature to be validated as authentic once signed and prevents anyone from forging, duplicating, or copying the signature.
PKI also works hand-in-hand with the Certificate Authority (CA) process. CAs are established by a Trust Service Provider (TSP). TSPs are third-party providers that are used in the digital signing process by the digital signature software to verify the accuracy of the digital and public keys and provide a certificate documenting the validity.
Because the CA is so essential to establishing digital signature security, Foxit eSign uses one of the most trusted TSPs in the industry to certify each signature; this means your signatures are protected by two experts in the electronic signature industry at all times.
The Benefits of Digital Signatures
So, how are digital signatures vital to the documents you and your organization send and receive each day? Let’s take a look:
The added security that digital signatures provide to your essential documents is irreplaceable. PKIs and CAs ensure that each signature is verified, signed, and sealed – making the document virtually tamper-proof, unlike traditional paper documents.
Digital signatures allow full auditability of documents, giving you the power to see where and when documents were signed with timestamps, any changes made to the form, and who signed.
Not only do digital signatures provide enhanced security, but they also stand up in court for most transactions, thanks to the ESIGN and UETA Acts.
By incorporating digital signatures into your electronically signed documents, you can ensure the document’s data and validity are held to a higher standard that makes you and your clients feel more confident in the process.
How Digital Signatures Are Legally Binding
Thanks to two acts passed in the U.S. over 20 years ago, digital signatures are legally binding in most cases. Following the federal ESIGN and UETA acts being passed, it was mandated that electronic and digital signatures are valid and legally binding as long as basic guidelines are met. To comply with these laws, digital signatures need to meet the following requirements:
- Must demonstrate a clear intent to sign
- Must have consent to electronic business conducting clearly agreed to
- A clear signature association record must be maintained
- A clear signature attribution (audit trail) should be present
- There must be an easy retention method or way to produce documents as needed
When the preceding circumstances are met, digital signatures can be legally used for:
- Many legal documents and services
- Government forms
- Loan applications and other financial transactions
- Employment agreements
- Business contracts
- Sales receipts
- Service contracts
- Prescriptions and healthcare documents
- Other binding agreements
- And more!
But what about documents that can’t use digital signatures? The ESIGN and UETA acts have clearly outlined documents that still require pen-and-ink signatures for them to be considered legal. Here’s what you cannot use digital signatures for:
- Recall notices
- Wills, trusts, and codicils
- Utility cancelation notices
- Family law paperwork, including divorce and adoption
- Court orders, briefs, and documents for official courtroom use
- Rental and primary residence notices
- Hazardous materials documentation
- Health and life insurance cancelation notices
Want to know more about how digital signatures can help you and your organization? Take a look at the intuitive industry solutions that Foxit eSign offers.
How Foxit eSign Offers Secure Digital Signature Options
Not all digital signature software solutions are created equal. With Foxit eSign, you get customizable and easy-to-use digital signature solutions that work with you and your organization’s needs.
Take a peek at some of the unique and helpful ways that Foxit eSign makes comprehensive digital signature solutions that help ensure your electronic document needs are met:
Full Spectrum API:
Foxit eSign is the best electronic signature software can integrate fully into the software you and your company already uses.
Control the signing process by delegating who signs your documents.
Allow authorized representatives to fill out preliminary information and send out documents to your signers.
Digital Certificate Generation:
Establish the rules your document needs and receive automatic notifications based on those rules.
You never have to worry about your document’s security when it comes to using Foxit eSign. Our servers are hosted and monitored 24/7 in a secure facility that uses SSAE 16, is SOC2 and SOC3 compliant, and is protected by biometric readers, infrared detectors, full-perimeter fencing, and more. Foxit eSign features higher SOC2 level compliance than even some tech industry giants! Plus, the TSP that Foxit eSign uses is offsite and is considered the industry standard for digital security.
Foxit eSign takes your industry-specific compliance needs a step further by being HIIPAA-certified, CFR Part 11 compliant, FERPA compliant, and FINRA compliant. All documents created with Foxit eSign are also compliant with ESIGN and UETA.
Start your Free Trial today with Foxit eSign and see how we can help ensure your documents are secure and legally-binding.